CHICAGO -- Perhaps the road to the Eastern Conference finals starts with the kind of streak-ending defeat the New York Knicks suffered on Thursday.
It’s twisted logic indeed, but after all, the end of the Knicks’ 13-game winning streak came in the same venue where the Miami Heat saw their 27-game winning streak end just two weeks prior. And it’s not as if the Heat’s title chances took a serious blow.
In losing for the first time since March 27 in Los Angeles against the Clippers, the Knicks will merely hit the reset button. They were playing short-handed, were extended to overtime, and had no answer for the smallest player on the court.
When the 5-foot-9 Nate Robinson drops 35 points on you with a sizzling 10-of-18 shooting from the field and 5-of-11 from 3-point range, bad things can happen.
“I think Nate likes playing against coach Woodson,” said coach Mike Woodson, who was referencing Robinson’s 41-point performance at Atlanta on New Year’s Day 2010. “He’s a handful in terms of keeping him in front and is a kid that can make jump shots. He’s athletic and he had it going tonight. That was the difference, I thought.”
The defeat also means the Bulls swept the four-game season series against the Knicks, making them the only Eastern Conference team the Knicks did not defeat.
Nobody is suggesting that will be an issue if the teams happen to meet in the postseason, when games take on a completely different identity.
“They can have it,” said Carmelo Anthony, who scored 36 points, but did so on 13-of-34 shooting from the field. “They can have the regular-season wins. They did a great job at beating us four times. We’re not worrying about them at this point, we’re concerned about ourselves.”
Anthony not only passed the 35-point mark for the sixth consecutive game, but also maintained his lead over Kevin Durant in the scoring-title chase. Anthony is at 28.7 points per game, while Durant was at 28.3 before Thursday's action.
“We got off to a great start and played extremely well tonight,” Anthony said. “In overtime I thought we just gassed out tonight. But they can have it.”
Anthony had a chance to win it in regulation, but his shot at the buzzer was off the mark.
“The streak is over with,” Woodson said. “We have another game [Friday]. It would have been nice if Carmelo’s shot went in and we would be leaving here with a win. But there is no shame at all in losing a streak like that. We just came up a little short tonight.”
Ultimately, the win streak or the struggles against the Bulls this season won’t matter. The Knicks need some of their big men to return before the playoffs begin in a little over a week.
“We played the Bulls four times and we came up short four times, but there’s a bigger picture and that’s not looking to see who we beat all season,” Jason Kidd said. “We didn’t beat Houston either. We just have to regroup [Friday]. We’re short-handed again but we have enough guys in this locker room that believe we can win.”